Blunt unhappy with federal shutdown

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt says the federal government shutdown “shouldn’t have happened.”

It has consequences for world issues, Blunt said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters.

“A significant percentage of the CIA is on leave right now,” he said. “And all of our adversaries around the world know that somewhere in excess of half the CIA is not working — and that people who monitor terrorist activities are at a different work-level than they were last week.”

Although the government still is issuing Social Security checks, Blunt said, “If you want to sign up for Social Security, you can’t. Or if your mother’s check is lost, you can’t find somebody to help you find it.

“At harvest time in Missouri, the Farm Services office being closed makes a difference.”

Blunt noted the National Institutes of Health has furloughed about 14,000 of its 18,000 employees, stalling medical trials and health research efforts.

The Republican favors “eliminating anything that’s not necessary, that we shouldn’t be doing. But if the government should be doing it, we should be figuring out how to keep it operational.”

The shutdown happened because Congress hasn’t authorized the federal government to spend money in its new business year that began Tuesday.

“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” Blunt explained. “We spend so much time talking about things that don’t matter. ... The symbolism here is that the government’s not doing its job.”

The current government shutdown is linked to repeated efforts by the U.S. House to block the federal health care law.

President Barack Obama has promised to veto any bill with that language, and the Democrat-controlled Senate has rejected it repeatedly.

Blunt has been one of “Obamacare’s” outspoken critics.

But he also thinks efforts to tie continued federal government funding to language delaying or defunding the health care law ultimately won’t work.

The next big fight is over the debt ceiling — the authority to keep borrowing money so the government can pay bills it already has incurred — which administrators have said must be raised by Oct. 17.

“My belief is, if (the shutdown) doesn’t end in the next couple of days, it won’t end until both the debt limits and ... the intermediate-term funding question are resolved,” Blunt said. “It may go on longer than anybody wants it to.”

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